Seconds to months to years, change is inevitable. Most of the times, change is good. A perfect example? Hakkasan in Mumbai.
By: Karishma Suri
Posted on: June 7, 2012
“It’s like wine. It has become better with age,” I thought. And aged a full year at that. A smile here, a handshake there and yet everything was the same. But still, something felt so new. Fresh, and also quite altered. An extra glance around confirmed that I was in the same place, but time had changed the important bits around. The snootiness in the air had vanished and there was a spell of warmth and hospitality all over the place. With a ‘dress as you please’ and of course, ‘eat as you please’ policy, I hear a chorus of cheering from the elite foodies of Mumbai.
As you climb up a flight of stairs that are definitely not high-heel friendly, say hello to a hostess who will first confirm your reservation as you make your way into the lift which reminds one of sci-fi movies because of the dim blue lighting. Exit at the second floor and shove the hefty door to reveal yet another smiling hostess who will guide you to your table at the Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant from London, Hakkasan. Having been to the much-acclaimed restaurant before, it was a sigh of relief to see that the much necessary changes had been made to exemplify hospitality, comfort and the sheer joy of devouring great culinary delights!
Let your eyes roam for a few seconds and notice the signature elements, such as, the use of blue glass, the ‘caged’ dining area, the contemporary European interpretation of Orientalism in the design of the furniture, fittings and equipment, and the permeating scent of jasmine incense sticks. Simply put, it all points to the Hakkasan legacy and, in a nutshell, elicits both excitement and intrigue.
Not only a delight to the stomach, but to the ears too, be prepared to hear soft music that complements the decor well. Garnering a sense of respect, you will realise that your waiter is a sea of knowledge and courteous manners, which totals to an absolutely perfect dining experience! This perfect experience can be attributed to the detailed food, beverage and service trainings that the Hakkasan team goes through. “Numerous role plays are conducted for the entire team to handle different scenarios. Anticipation of guests needs is the key for an unobtrusive but still attentive service,” said Mr Jeetesh Kaprani, Vice President – Operations, KA Hospitality Pvt Ltd.
What’s true and what’s not
Besides housing a fully stocked bar that has the illusion of moving water and has rocked the socks of many party lovers over weekends, Hakkasan is slowly but surely making its mark on the culinary map of India’s elite. Instead of a birthday candle, Hakkasan blew out a new menu to celebrate their one year, which wasn’t fully ready, but the sneak peak was enough to get my insides churning. If you were wondering like me, Mr Alan Yau, the man behind the Hakkasan concept of offering modern Chinese dishes with chic Chinese décor, is a native of the Hakka tribe. And ‘san’ means ‘sir’ in Chinese dialect. Thus the name Hakkasan. “The new menu emerged from a passion for good food and being able to adjust to the local demographics and sourcing products that are locally available,” shared an excited Mr Kaprani. For drinks, which were a ‘surprise’ for us, the bartender Niki whipped up two fun drinks that complement any occasion. Highly recommended, the Passion Fruit Millionaire which is a concoction of passion fruit, Jin Beam Black, grenadine syrup, lime juice, passion syrup and egg white is an absolute winner with the ladies as well as the men (contrary to what may be said)! A brother to the Mojito, the Venezuelan Julep was a perfect mix of coriander leaves, Diplomatic, coco liqueur, pine apple, lime juice, vanilla and sugar. Punchy at the right notes, the drink makes you want to unwind and leave your worries for another day.
Yes, I can hear those stomachs rumbling. Not only are Hakkasan’s drinks an absolute gold star, but their food promises a gastronomical treat with every bite. Try the Black Fungus Dumplings, a dumpling of shitake, black fungus, shimeji and water chestnut which were absolutely fresh, crunchy and a perfect opening for the palate. Another option for vegetarians is the Radish Dumplings which will convert you into a radish lover for life. The non-vegetarians can cry out in happiness with the Stir Fry Pomfret - fresh, crispy bite-sized pieces of pomfret tossed in schezuan peppercorn sauce that goes well as an appetizer with all drinks. Another dish that stirs the palate and the eyes is the sesame prawn toast. Looking to cleanse your insides? Try the Chinese wild mushroom soup, a combination of exotic oriental mushrooms in a clear soup, which opens up the senses because of the subtlety of flavours, which were yet strong and powerfully enticing.
A culinary delight!
With many options to choose from, you will not be judged for a few extra moments taken to study the menu. So take your time and match your moods with the foods because the menu houses something to please everyone. For the main course, we had the Jumbo Prawns tossed in a mild spicy sauce served with soft mantao bread (which is hands down the best in town!). My companion stated that the prawns tasted absolutely fresh as though the chef went for a prawn catch post our order! A pity that a small appetite can cause such a distressing war between scrumptious food and a bursting stomach. Classic, yet delectable to another level, the stir fry chicken in black bean sauce looked appealing and scrumptious, even to a vegetarian. Perfectly cooked, you will claim that you almost forgot it needs to be chewed! The stir-fry French beans with tofu, bell peppers, picked radish, shitake mushrooms and dash of peanuts in black bean and oyster sauce was a burst of flavours all at once, which left one wanting more as the last tofu piece melted in the mouth in a matter of seconds.
Celebrating the season of the king of fruits, mango lovers have a reason to rejoice. The Mango & Ginger Creme Brulee is a hit even if you usually avoid mangoes. The perfect crack of the caramel will please your ears as well as your tongue, so go ahead, dig in!
“The aura around Hakkasan is all about each space, the emotion it provokes and nurtures, and the logistics behind its aesthetics, functions and form. A comfortable setting that dispenses with the hows and whys, and says ‘it just is’. What creates the identity of this space is the way that your eye can move, play everywhere and never rest,” said Mr Kaprani proudly. According to him, the style exudes a cool charm that bestows calm, tranquillity and modesty to a luxurious and modern environment. Do you agree? Here’s wishing the one year old a long journey ahead!
Coordinates: Hakkasan Mumba, Krystal, Waterfield Road, Bandra, Mumbai, India
Opening Hours: Restaurant: 19.00 - 23.30 hrs; Ling Ling Lounge: 12.00 – 15.00 hrs, 19.00 – 23.30 hrs
For reservations: Call +91 22 2644 4444/45 or email [email protected]